self-renovation


read

Ever scan the important and serious calendars meant for men and then glance over to the flowery, aspirational, aphorism filled calendars marketed to women? What’s that about? Are women being told we aren’t good enough, or, are women strivers? Are these calendars a nefarious marketing tool preying on women, or, are they a response to women’s desires to become the best humans we can be? Do men just prefer not to be lectured at in their day books? My fabulous friend, Karen Karbo, is working on a book about exactly these questions. Yeah. No. Not Happening, will be a “funny, philosophical, feminist rant against the tyranny of self-improvement” in Spring 2020.
Me? I am a feminist, and I’m always up for self-renovation. As Viktor Frankl says in Man’s Search for Meaning, there is tension between what one has achieved and what one wants to accomplish. “Such a tension is inherent in the human begin and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being.” So, I’ve amassed a stack of books to read this January. Here are just a few:

Do you visit the Self-Help section of your bookstore the same way you visit the snack aisle at the grocery store? Your mouth watering for umami and a better you? Any gems you’d like to share? If you’re of the Yeah. No. Not Happening, ilk, good on you! How do you do it? Seriously.



write

Hey, I want to challenge you. Can you get 100 rejections in 2019? Seriously, I think it’ll be really good for you, and me! Lit Hub has a great article here, espousing the virtues of rejection collection. In 2018 I received nineteen rejections (three included invitations to submit more work) and zero acceptances. I don’t think that means my work isn’t strong, I think it means I didn’t send enough into the world. If we strive to amass the rejections, there’s bound to be acceptances sprinkled in, right? 2019 will be my year to slingshot stories, applications for residencies and grants into the world.
To be certain we’re offering our best work and targeting the most likely Yes!, check out this editors roundtable discussion from The Southeast Review. What do editors want in the submissions they read? 1. To be surprised. 2. A strong voice. 3. Well-wrought characters. What are the biggest mistake they see in submissions? Writers who don’t read the guidelines or know the zeitgeist of the journal to which they’re submitting. And, go figure, dick poems! One editor says, “For the love of all that’s holy, please stop sending.”
Where will you send your fine work? Here are some resources:

I’m all in on this. How about you? “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Thanks, Samuel Beckett)



eat

I’m writing this note on the Solstice, which to me is more important than New Year’s Eve. After tonight (finally!) we circle back toward the light. I’ve been struggling to tamp down my list making, time managing, goal oriented behavior, and allow for lounging, reading, soaking in a tub, and napping during these very short days. I am trying to embrace stillness and enjoy the yen toward cuddling-up in the dark afternoons. What am I cooking during these swell and long evenings? Soup of course. Last week I served this vegetable forward, light yet hearty Beef Barley Soup w/Lemon to my writing friends. Tonight I’m serving this gorgeous and rich French Onion Soup. I love the way the Dutch oven looks when you pull it from beneath the broiler, the cheese bubbling with crisp borders. I’m serving a Roasted Garlic Caesar which subs candied walnuts for croutons and has a healthy dose of roasted garlic in the dressing. I plan on sprinkling some pomegranate seeds over the top, because: 1. I have them.  2. They’re beautiful. 3. I think they’ll add to the zing of the dressing. Do you know the trick of extricating seeds from the pomegranate?
Soup, salad, a nice glass of this terrific red wine, then we’ll settle in with a pal to watch Roma. Doesn’t that sound like a perfect longest night of the year?